Fun With Acronyms: Real Life

  • Canada briefly had the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, in part because its leader, Stockwell Day, may not have been paying attention. As soon as the media noticed, the name was changed to the "Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance," and shortly thereafter to simply the "Canadian Alliance." (The party subsequently merged with what remained of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to form today's Conservative Party of Canada, in power since 2006.)
  • Latin American political parties seem particularly fond of this. As one example, Bolivia's current governing party is MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo), with mas in Spanish meaning "more". Multiple parties in South American countries have succeeded in constructing names that produce the acronym PODEMOS, translating to "We can".
  • Before 1999, France's Commando Parachute Group was known in French as Commandos de Recherche et d'Action en Profondeur, and yes, that was the actual acronym. Meaningless in French, but hilarious in English.
  • There is a certain French Connection shop at Heathrow Airport, which has its email address written in big block letters: FC.UK
    • French Connection lives and breathes entirely on this trope. Christmas campaign? 'fcuk christmas'. Denim range? 'fcuk denim'. It's clearly the best thing about the shop.
    • In 1999, French Connection sued Conservative Future UK for rebranding themselves CFUK, claiming a copyright on the letters FCUK "in any order..."
    • This was in fact French Connection's whole advertising identity, even outside the United Kingdom, for several years in 2000s.
    • It's worldwide. A shop with the large sign reading FCUK exists within a prestigious shopping complex in Malaysia.
  • The MicroSoft Critical Update Notification Tool. Google it.
  • SCRAM - Safety Control Rod Axe-Man - an emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor (and is precisely what you'd want to do in the event of a meltdown).
    • In fact, it's unclear whether the acronym was originally even there at the time it's first credited (the Manhattan Project); some of the people involved say it was, some claim it was a backronym years later.
    • The nuclear industry loves giving reactor designs acronym names. The Canadian nuclear industry's reactor uses heavy-water (in which ordinary hydrogen's heavier isotope Deuterium replaces said "ordinary" hydrogen) as its neutron moderator, allowing it to run on natural (read: un-enriched) uranium, thus giving their reactor design the name Canada Deuterium Uranium spelling CANDU. (It helps that because of how light hydrogen is, the neutron doubles deuterium's mass which actually does appreciably change chemistry, so Deuterium is one of only two isotopes to have a distinct chemical symbol from its element's most prevalent isotope, the other being Tritium, which is also a hydrogen isotope. Deuterium's symbol is D, and Tritium's symbol is T)
      • Also from Canada, the Multipurpose Applied Physics Lattice Experiment reactor design is, to this day, one of the most popular reactors worldwide for use in the production of radio-isotopes that are used almost exclusively for medical applications. Conveniently its initials spell out the name of Canada's official national tree.
      • One predecessor to the CANDU was SLOWPOKE, which stood for Safe, Low-Power Kritical Experiment.
      • Before even SLOWPOKE, there was the first ever nuclear reactor to activate outside the United States, Canada's Zero Energy Experimental Pile (it had more than zero energy but none of it was actually harnessed meaningfully).
      • Meanwhile, in the 'States, one Department of Energy design developed in the Argonne Nat'l Lab in Chicago was the ARGONAUT, or Argonne Nuclear Assembly for University Training.
      • At one point, the US had a nuclear lab on the island of Puerto Rico, where scientests developed the Boiling Nuclear Superheater.
      • NASA actually led some research into devising nuclear-fission reactors that could provide an energy-supply for unmanned spacecraft in the Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power experiments. The only American reactor to see actual launch and successful operation was the SNAP-10A reactor.
      • Idaho National Lab also developed a so-called "zero-power" unit called the Zero Power Physics Reactor (pronounced "zipper" for short)
      • As part of tests to determine how safe a coolant water would be if a watercooled reactor overheated, the Department of Energy conducted the Boiling water Reactor Experiment. Five such reactors were tested, some to (intentional) destruction to gather data for use in calculating safety margins for commercial reactors in use to this day.
      • Across the Pond, the United Kingdom built the Graphite Low Energy Experimental Pile, a long-lived research reactor and the first purpose-built nuclear reactor in Western Europe.
      • CERN's most famous Tokamak-type fusion reactor is located in Oxfordshire, England, and is known as the Joint European Torus.
      • The first machine to split the atom Down Under was the High Flux Australian Reactor, or HIFAR for short, and today, the Ozzies operate the Open Pool Australian Lightwater reactor, whose initials spell out the name of one of that nation's prized mineral exports.
      • South Africa too has long done nuclear physics research, and their first foray into the field was the South African Fundamental Atomic Research Installment One, or SAFARI 1 for short.
      • One popular model of nuclear research reactor is called the Training, Research, Isotopes (by) General Atomics (the last two words being the name of the company that designed it).
      • Austria developed a research-reactor and named it Adaptierter Schwimmbecken-Typ-Reaktor Austria (translated into English approximately as: Adapted Swimmingpool-Type Reactor Austria)
      • One of the proposed designs for a next-generation fission reactor that's generated a lot of interest is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor or LFTR (pronounced "lifter") for short. That acronym was popularized by nuclear engineer Kirk Sorensen.
      • While there is an official report on the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, its veracity is, to be polite, widely challenged from commentators on all sides of the debate. The findings of the study released by Western sources in an effort to shed more light on the incident is almost universally known by the informal abbreviation, The Other Report on Chernobyl.
  • DDT: The debugger on the CP/M Z80 microprocessor platform was called DDT, Dynamic Debugging Tool.
  • This acronym goes all the way back to DEC's PDP-1 computer with its DEC Debugging Tape, based on the FLexowriter Interrogation Tape debugger for the one-of-a-kind TX-0 computer.
  • ELF, the Executable and Linkable Format, a common standard file format for executables, object code, shared libraries, and core dumps.
    • Which was created along with its debugging data format called DWARF, Debugging With Attributed Record Formats.
    • Bonus point for DWARF being an actual backronym. At first it was simply named that way because it sounded cool with a format named ELF.
  • JAP: The slur acronym for and one of the stereotypes of Jewish women, Jewish American Princess.
    • Also, the acronyms for Java Anon Proxy (a.k.a. Java Anonymous Proxy or Jon Donym) a proxy system designed to allow browsing the Web with revocable pseudonymity (a state of disguised identity), the Journal of Applied Physics, a scientific journal published by American Institute of Physics, the Journal of Applied Physiology, a scientific journal published by American Physiological Society, and Just Another Pumpkin, a dark green pumpkin with small to medium-sized, light yellow splotches and spots on its skin.
    • And the British engine manufacturers J. A. Prestwich, thanks to whom many motorcycles had JAP engines long before the Japanese motorcycle industry got going.
  • The motto of the state of Austria is perhaps the most ambitious of all: A.E.I.O.U, which stands either for Latin Austriae est imperare orbi universo (Austria shall rule the whole orb, i.e. Earth) or German Alles Erdreich ist Oesterreich Untertan (All the world is subdued to Austria). It may be well that all of these (and there are many more) are Epileptic Trees; AEIOU was the motto of emperor Friedrich III, but he never gave a definition.
  • While the Cisco's Carrier Routing System router, CRS-1 was in development, it was known by the code name of HFR that stands for Huge Fucking Router.
  • The World Health Organization is a rather high-profile example.
  • The name of the central command of NATO military forces? Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. Seriously.
  • The term "Special Weapons And Tactics" worked out very well for the public image of SWAT teams. Well enough that they could ignore the fact that, by standard acronym rules, it really ought to have been SWT. SWAT originally stood for Special Weapons Assault Team, but this acronym was rejected by higher-ups in the Los Angeles Police Department for sounding too military. Referring to a police squad as an "assault team" was considered to give the wrong impression, even though that's exactly what SWAT teams are.
    • The Mexican version of the SWAT teams is named GATES (Grupo de Armas y Tacticas ESpeciales/Special Weapons And Tactics Group)
  • Missed opportunity for the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be called The Bureau of FATE.
  • Souvenir And Novelty Trade Association.
  • Subversion: During the Cold War, the US kept an airborne command center ready to take off with the President at moment's notice in the event of a Global Thermonuclear War. This National Emergency Airborne Command Post had the unpronounceable acronym NEACP, but quickly became unofficially known as 'Kneecap'...
    • Less humorously and more meaningfully known by its nickname: "the Doomsday plane".
    • NEACP replaced the 1960s version, which was essentially the same equipment, plus a substantial amount of bulk, mounted in a modified aircraft carrier, called the National Emergency Command Post Afloat.
  • As readers of Eric Flint's 1632 novels well know, the 17th-century King Gustav Adolf II of Sweden frequently disguised himself as a commoner to live and work among his people, using the name "Gars": Gustavus Adolphus, Rex Sueciae (Latin for Gustav Adolf, King of the Swedes). Which makes Gustavus Adolphus GAR before GAR became a meme.
  • And this entry could not be complete without the U.S. Navy's Commander In Chief - United States Fleet (C.In.C.U.S., which sounds like "sink us"). The position's name was changed to ComInCH almost immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • The names for the Jeep and the Humvee are thought to be a pronunciation of GP (General Purpose) and HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle). (The British Forces slang term "Gimpy" (pronounced 'jimpy') is known to be a pronunciation of GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun), so this makes some sense).
    • Same goes for the DShK 1938 "Dushka"note , a Soviet heavy machinegun.
    • Patriot Missiles have the Radio Logic Routing Interface Unit (pronounced ROO-LE-ROO) and Switch Multiplexor Unit (pronounced Schmoo) try telling your fellow (non-air defense) soldiers that the RLRIU is up but the SMU is down....
  • The "widget" in the Widget Series entry is a pronounciation of W.J.T., which means Weird Japanese Thing. (The French counterpart of the WJT is the WTF, or Weird Thing from France.)
    • And the American counterpart is the Weird American Thing, or sometimes the Weird Humorous American Thing.
  • At one point, the teachers of the First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids' senior-high sunday-school class had briefly considered the name Senior High Instruction Team. They wisely decided against adopting the moniker.
  • A prolific USENET troll claims to represent a church calling itself the First Universal Christian Kingdom which, according to a Google search, actually exists. There's a phone number, whose operators must be tired of people calling to say "hello, is that the FUCK?"
  • Washington Air National Guard detachment. Funnier in that it wasn't actually spelled out; you just had to guess by context what sort of WANG you were calling for.
    • WAashington Army National Guard doesn't have it much better.
  • Province of Ontario Land Registration Information System
  • The LAPD has a section called the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums.
  • There's a collegiate honor society called Sigma Tau Delta.
  • Then there's Glucose Oxidase, quite possibly the most sacred enzyme of all time.
  • Dublin has a light rail system called Dublin Area Rapid Transit. - DART
    • Dallasites also have a transit system known as DART: Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The governing body of which, of course, is the DART Board.
      • Followed by many jokes in Dallas regarding the name of the transit system in twin-rival-city Fort Worth.note 
    • The Metro Transit system in King County, WA also has Dial A Ride Transit. Which could also stand for Disabled Access Rapid Transit.
  • In a very similar vein, the San Francisco Bay Area has an intercity regional transit system called the Bay Area Rapid Transit- BART. As with Dallas and Fort Worth, cracks about a hypothetical system in nearby Fresno are common.
  • Those of us a little more north will be getting the Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit line - the SMART line as an extension of BART (running from Cloverdale to San Francisco).
    • And every kid in the western U.S. jokes about what it'd be called if it started in Fullerton, Felton, Fresno, etc. Supposedly, a Fairfield Area Rapid Transit once existed.
    • Their prayers are answered. The local transport company of Ticino canton, Switzerland, is Ferrovie Autolinee Regionale Ticinese. Linky - check the bit at the bottom.
    • The buses in the suburbs of Detroit are run by the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation.
  • A lot of cities with light rail go out of their way to create acronyms like that. Portland Oregon has MAX (Metro Area eXpress), Atlanta has MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority)note , and so on.
    • When Atlanta was awarded hosting-rights for the 1994 Super Bowl and the '96 Olympics, they turned to some software engineering students at their hometown university, Georgia Tech, to develop a system that could monitor traffic-flow in real-time and provide continuous, adaptive adjustment of traffic-light timing patterns to help prevent traffic backups. The resulting computer program was christened, "Traffic Event Response & Management for Intelligent Navigation Using Signals", which appropriately enough, spells out the city's original name it was founded under, Terminus, a reference to its role as a transfer point between trains on a route connecting Savannah with Chattanooga.
  • Averted in Charlotte, where the light rail system, LYNX, isn't really an acronym so much as a homophone pun (as it "links" parts of the city together), though it does fit the theme established by its "parent", the Charlotte Area Transit System.
  • Seattle had the South Lake Union Trolley. When they realized what it spelled the name was officially changed to South Lake Union Streetcar, but the original name stuck.
  • Nuremberg, Germany has RUBIN: Realisierung einer automatisierten U-Bahn In Nürnberg. (Realizing an automatised subway in Nuremberg)
  • Toledo, Ohio has TARTA (Toledo Area Rapid Transit Authority)
  • Until the late 1990s/early 2000s, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan had a bus system called GRATA which stood for Grand Rapids Area Transit Authority. Sadly, rides weren't gratis on GRATA and they changed their name to "the Rapid" in the early '00s.
    • The Rapid has since adopted other acronyms, one of which was Downtown Area Shuttle.
  • Michigan's capital city Lansing has CATACapital Area Transportation Authority. Its logo is the silhouette of a big cat.
  • The city of San Luis Obispo, CA has been known to have fun with its name with lines like "Live life in the SLO lane" and "Take it SLO." Their bus system is called SLO Transit.
  • Dun and Bradstreet's system for providing a unique serial number for businesses is known as the Data Universal Numbering System.
  • The Plain Language Association International (PLAIn) is an organization whose goal is to ease back on the use of obscure Technobabble in academia, government, law and business. (You know... Like unnecessary, opaque acronyms.)
  • From 1978 through The Eighties, Subaru sold a car-based 4x4 pickup called the "Brat". At first they insisted it was a " Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter". Wags described it as Barely Recognizeable As a Truck.
    • Similarly, the first Fiat cars brought to the U.S. had a bad reputation, to say the least and were quickly given the slang nickname Fix It Again Tony.
  • Jimmy Carter's effort to encourage rationing of gasoline during the oil shortage of the 70s was called the Moral Equivalent of War, a phrase taken from William Jennings Bryant. Unfortunately, when made an acronym on buttons, it spells out MEOW.
  • The German Military Counterintelligence Agency is called Militärischer Abschirmdienst.
    • German MAD suggested several times that they renamed the organization to avoid confusion. They also made some suggestions for the new name which were this trope, like MÜD (German for tired), DUMM, WURST and BANANAS (can't remember the details).
  • The identical acronym for the strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction is usually considered quite appropriate.
    • It worked didn't it? "If it's stupid, but it works, it's not stupid"
    • Also its opposite, Nuclear Utilization Target Selection, NUTS. Hence a common question among IR students: Are you MAD or NUTS?
  • G.I.R.L.: Guy In Real Life
  • Light Anti-tank Weapon.
    • Then there is the Squad Automatic Weapon.
      • A MythBusters episode had the Build Team use various firearms, including the SAW, to test if it's possible to cut a tree down with bullets. Tory, while discussing the weapons, noted "How ironic" when he got to the SAW.
    • The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, in both Light (5.56) and Heavy (7.62) versions.
    • The Missile d´Infanterie Léger ANtichar, a French anti-tank missile. "Milan" means "kite" (like the bird) in French.
    • And for an odd case, everyone knows RPG stands for Rocket Propelled Grenade (except when it doesn't). Except it doesn't. It actually stands for ruchnoy protivotankovy granatomyot, Russian for handheld anti-tank grenade launcher.
  • High Explosive Anti-Tank Warhead.
    • There's also High Explosive Armour Piercing, or H.E.A.P., High Explosive Squash Head, or H.E.S.H.... there's tons.
    • Worth mentioning is the MOAB, or the Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb, at one point the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed, and colloquially known as the Mother Of All Bombs.
      • Unfortunately subverted though with the Armor-Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot which is the primary anti tank munition for the US Military...so people just nicknamed it "The Silver Bullet".
    • You cannot leave any discussion of silly-sounding military acronyms without mentioning the one describing the FIM-92 Stinger and its class of weapons: M.A.N.P.A.D.S., or Man Portable Air Defense System. It may be something all low-flying combat aircraft fear, but that doesn't stop it from sounding like underwear liners for guys.
    • The British L6 recoilless rifle was better known as the Weapon Of Magnesium, Battalion Anti-Tank.
    • And, of course, there's the Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile, which tows a wire from the launcher behind itself for guidance.
  • At at least one university, the orientation program for Hillel, the Jewish student organization, was called First Year Students at Hillel. Ironic, given how the fish as a symbol is strongly associated with Christianity.
  • In the wake of their draconian antipiracy efforts, which have included lawsuits for outrageous amounts based on little to no evidence of any wrongdoing with extortionate "settlement terms", the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America gained the less than complementary collective nickname Music And Film Industry Association of America — MAFIAA.
  • I DARE you to find somebody who actually knows what that acronym stands for. Yes, there's an answer. It's Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
    • In Australia it's Drugs Are Really Exciting.
    • The aforementioned Schools Heightened Aversion Drugs Therapy of Brass Eye is probably a parody.
  • The unmanned surveillance crew at an Air Force base which shall remain unnamed suggested Predator Exploitation Near-real-time Information System for their sub-unit. This was rejected, as was their second choice Predator Observation Station.
  • There's a British clothing chain called the French Connection, United Kingdom (all lowercase, so fcuk). They've had a lot of fun putting their brand on shirts, and stirred up controversy opening up shops in the US.
  • While EPCOT stands for the relatively boring "Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow" it carries another meaning for Disney employees: Every Paycheck Comes On Thursday.
    • To guests touring late into the evening, on the other hand, it's Every Person Comes Out Tired.
      • It can also mean Every Pocket Cleaned Out Thoroughly.
      • To guests staying for the New Years Eve party (Or make use of Boozing 'round the world) it's Trashed instead of Tired.
      • Evil Polyester Costumes of Terror!
    • Residents of Anaheim, California like to use Disney Is So Not Ever Yielding, to reference the stranglehold the company holds over local politics. Disney would like you to know that Orange County would be nothing without them! No acronmym there... they just want you to know.
    • Technically "EPCOT" (all caps) only refers to Walt Disney's original plan for what ultimately became the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney intended the property to be an actual community, with homes and schools and everything, that would serve as a testing ground and a showcase for new technologies and new methods of urban planning. But the company chickened out after Walt Disney died and just decided to turn the property into a collection of theme parks. The theme park "Epcot" was intended to embody the spirit of Walt's EPCOT concept without the political/logistical headaches of governing a town (and with the "new methods of urban planning" changed to "showcase for international cultures"), but it's gradually drifted away from that purpose over the years and most guests don't even know that it was originally an acronym.
  • Northern California has the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District.
  • Subverted with the esoteric programming language, INTERCAL, which stands for "Compiler Language With No Pronounceable Acronym".
  • There is an organisation named Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, whose first major act was to hold a contest: the BEST Commuter Challenge.
  • Countdown's computer is called Cecil, which turns out to mean Countdown's Electronic Calculator In Leeds (where the show is filmed).
  • Bikers Against Drunk Drivers.
    • I raise you Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
      • I call and raise Students Against Drunk Driving/Drivers.
      • And parodied by (Was it Bill Engvall or Jeff Foxworthy? Think Foxworth): Drunks Against Mad Mothers.
      • Recording Artists, Actors, and Athletes Against Drunk Driving is merely RAADD.
  • The Personal Halting And Stimulation Response rifle. Sure, it just temporarily blinds its targets, but what red-blooded American soldier doesn't secretly yearn to have a PHASeR rifle?
    • Not to mention the TASER, an acronym of Thomas A Swift's Eletric Rifle. Nevermind that Tom Swift was never given a middle name, let alone the initial "A". It makes the acronym work.
  • There is a parody Christian conservative group entitled Society of Christians for the Restoration of Old Testament Morality.
    • I'm guessing they want to break out the NAPALM, then, given how much of the old testament is about genocide.
  • NASA, like many American federal agencies, is practically made of this trope. For example, there's a flight control position known as SPARTAN. The "N" stands for "coNtrol."
    • Following a poll on their site to decide what to name the new ISS module ending up with the name "Colbert" winning (through write-in votes, no less), NASA instead chose to name a new zero-g exercise machine for use on the ISS the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill.
    • There's more than just SPARTAN. Witness:
      • Electrical Generation and Integrated Lighting Systems Engineer, responsible for the shuttle's electrical systems.
      • Flight Dynamics Officer, responsible for the flight path of the shuttle, pronounced FIDO.
      • Mechanical, Maintenance, Arm, and Crew Systems, responsible for the shuttle's mechanical systems. (Sound it out.)
    • The ISS gets in on the action, too:
    • One bad taste joke after the Columbia disaster was that NASA stood for Need Another Seven Astronauts.
      • In a similar vein, after the Apollo 1 fire, some reporters commented that NASA, which hadn't been very helpful during the investigation of the incident, stood for Never A Straight Answer.
    • NASA once launched a probe to study the planet Mercury called the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging orbiter, or MESSENGER. Appropriate for the planet named for the messenger of the gods.
    • NASA are testing SPHERES aboard the ISS. What are these SPHERES? Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites. They're roughly-spherical mini-satellites that will be used for "testing techniques that could lead to advancements in automated dockings, satellite servicing, spacecraft assembly and emergency repairs".
    • There is a concept for a space exploration vehicle known as the Non-Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States Exploration (NAUTILUS-X).
    • An unfortunate one: NASA Education Resources Director.
  • The Japanese space agency (JAXA), has a few backronyms of their own, such as the cancelled Japanese space shuttle "HOPE" (H-IInote  Orbiting PlanE), and a solar sail demonstrator known as the Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun.
  • More bad taste — MUNICH: Manchester United Never Intended Coming Home.
    • A common joke during the Waco siege (which descended into bad taste territory following the fiery finale) was that Waco stood for We Ain't Coming Out.
    • And an intercultural bad joke: in Spanish, NBA is said to stand for Negros Bastante Altos, "Quite Tall Black Men". Please note that in Spanish "negro" is not an insult by default.
      • In the same way, in Mexican Spanish, FBI is said to stand for Fuerza Bruta Indígena (Indigenous Brute Force)
  • There are two main hypotheses for how Dark Matter works- Weakly Interacting Massive Particles or Massive Compact Halo Objects. WIMPs and MACHOs, anyone?
    • Somehow, it'd be funnier if it was Natural instead of Massive.
    • Bill Bryson suggested that for now, we use the term Dark Unknown Nonreflective Nondetectable Objects Somewhere.
    • Robust Associations of Massive Baryonic Objects
    • A person critical of the theory proposed to call it Fabricated Ad hoc Inventions Repeatedly Invoked in Efforts to Defend Untenable Scientific Theories.
    • On a related note, string theory and other attempts at "theories of everything" meant to explain all of physics in a simple, intuitive way are known as Grand Unified Theories.
  • There are persistent rumours that the US Military was, at one stage, developing the Off Radar Ground Attack Standoff Missile until someone mysteriously decided to rename the programme. Of course this may just be someone's idea of a joke.
    • Highspeed Anti Radar Missile is real, though.
      • That model's British equivalent is officially known as Air Launche Anti Radar Missile.
  • The Free/Libre/Open Source Software community seems to be quite fond of this one:
    • GNU's Not Unix being the most obvious example. (It refers to the fact that GNU intends to be similar to Unix, but contains no code from Unix.)
    • Or there's the slightly unfortunate GNU Image Manipulation Program, which, as the name states, is a sub-project of the previously mentioned GNU.
    • Another GNU project, with a less unfortunate (but still odd) name, the GNU Network Object Model Environment, or GNOME, a graphical user interface designed for GNU but usable on practically any OS similar to or based on Unix (such as BSD and Solaris).
    • GNU CCCP is the C-Compatible Compiler Preprocessor. Because CCCP is also the Russian initialism for the Soviet Union, one might suspect that GNU is communist. One might also suspect that just from knowing anything about them.
    • A simple recursive acronym wasn't silly enough for the GNU kernel: it has a pair of mutually recursive acronyms — and a bad pun. It's called the GNU HURD (HIRD of Unix Replacing Daemons, where HIRD stands for HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth).
    • Samba isn't an acronym but comes very close - it was the first English word containing the letters S, M and B (in that order) - SMB being the protocol Samba interoperates with.
    • Wine Is Not an Emulator — and it really isn't; it's a compatibility layer for running Windows applications on other operating systems, not unlike what 64-bit versions of Windows have for 32-bit Windows programs or early versions of Mac OS X had for Mac OS Classic programs.
    • And don't forget LAME, which originally stood for Lame Ain't an MP3 Encoder. Unlike Wine, it is.
    • Linux, though actually a portmanteau of "Linus"(Torvalds)+"UNIX", has sometimes often been given the joke recursive-acronym interpretation "Linux Is Not UNIX".
    • The standard FLOSS server bundle is known as... LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (or Perl).
    • And Fine Is Not EMacs.
    • Once there was Emacs. The prototype Lisp machine had an Emacs-like editor called EINE (EINE Is Not Emacs). The Symbolics Lisp machine editor was called ZWEI (ZWEI Was EINE Initially). Fortunately, we were saved from DREI (DREI is Really Emacs Inside).
    • The Amnesic Incognito Live System (a privacy tool)
    • Ionization FRont Interactive Tool (3D data visualizer, now generic, but originally for stellar fireworks and named appropriately)
    • XNU, which is Mach-based like the Hurd mentioned above, stands for XNU is Not Unix. Funnily enough, this is the kernel used by OS X, the modern incarnation of Mac OS, which actually has been certified as UNIX for some time. The name of the XINU operating system stands for the same thing, but does not leave out the verb in the abbreviated form.
  • Speaking of software, Virtual Paper Doll standard KiSS — Kisekae Set System. Even better, the scripting extension is named "French-KiSS".
  • Palestian organization arakat al-Taḥrīr al-Waṭanī al-Filasṭīnī (Palestnian National Liberation Movement) is known as FATAH or 'victory' because HATAF would mean 'sudden death'.
    • Simlarly HAMAS means "zeal" and stands for arakat al-Muqawamah al-ISlamiyyah (the Islamic Resistance Movement).
  • The French and Germans developed a missile called Haut subsonique Optiquement Téléguidé (High Subsonic Optical Guided). It can carry a HEAT warhead.
  • From World War II we have Pipe Line Under The Ocean or PLUTO
    • Which lays itself open backronym suspicion because normally people don't consider the English Channel an ocean.
    • In Germany there was the ironic acryonm "Gröfaz" (sometimes spelled "GröFaZ) for Hitler, lampooning the propaganda of the Nazis - Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten, "greatest commander-in-chief of all times'''.
  • There's apparently a computer-based analysis tool for Nonnumerical, Unstructured Data Indexing, Searching, and Theorizing. In what is probably an attempt to not look too crude, the official acronym used by research papers throws in an asterisk in the middle to be NUD*IST...
  • Richard Nixon's re-election campaign was styled the Committee to Re-Elect the President, meant to be initialized as CRP, but after the Watergate scandal broke, people deemed another interpretation to be more apt.
    • Parodied by MAD as the Committee to Reelect the American President.
    • And by Marvel Comics with the Committee to Regain America's Principles.
    • And by the late Kenny Everett in his repeating Dallas / Dynasty parody Dallasty; the last episode of such in each show ended with "credits" which were of course absurdly long and scrolled past far too rapidly to read, and at the very end said (for a second or two) "Creative Research Associates Production" — stacked vertically so that the "CRAP" lined up and could clearly be read as such.
  • The gene "Zbtb7" was formerly known as the "POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic factor", which was often shortened to Pokémon. Pokemon USA naturally threatened to sue, as they didn't want Pokemon to be associated with the gene that may be the trigger for cancer, of all things.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, happens to be seasonally-dependent classical depression. Who says shrinks don't have a sense of humour?
    • Or S.O.S.A.D, which would be Sudden Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder. And it is SO SAD.
    • Then there's the Standard American Diet...
    • Not to mention Singles Awareness Day, also known as Valentine's Day.
    • Sad and coincidental, but Social Anxiety Disorder's, also known as social phobia's acronym spells out SAD, and many people with the disorder to tend to be sad because of the way it mixes with their life.
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder is the official name given to a disorder which causes instances of Berserk Button, Unstoppable Rage, and Disproportionate Retribution to overlap with destructive results. It also happens to share an acronym with Improvised Explosive Devices, roadside bombs that are well known because of their use in The War on Terror.
  • The Scotland Yard computer system is the Home Office Linked Major Enquiry System.
  • One of the three main schools in Laurens County, GA is West Laurens High School: Where Learning Has Style.
    • And, similarly, there's West Laurens Middle School: Where Learning Means Success.
  • In a 2007 paper in Chemical Communications, a group of Chinese academics coined an extremely unfortunate acronym for copper (Cu) nanotubes. The same paper also had bismuth nanotubes. Their journal article on the work managed to get published in an English-language journal with their nomenclature intact. This is possibly the only time a Chem. Comm. article has been cited by Viz.
  • The TV channel UKTV Gold was renamed G.O.L.D., which apparently stands for Go On, Laugh Daily.
  • There is always the Office of Naval Intelligence.
    • Although at first glance this appears to be an Oxymoron, it gets funnier if you know that an "Oni" is a Japanese ogre known for wielding giant iron clubs.
  • The name of the USA PATRIOT Act stood for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act". The act's primary effect was to increase the government's wiretap and surveillance powers.
    • Richard Stallman repurposed the acronym as the U SAP AT RIOT Act.
    • The government's been doing this a lot lately. Since then we've had the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act of 2007 and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010 (though the latter didn't pass the Senate).
    • This Economist blog post contains a list of American laws that have Fun with Acronyms. AYUDA, anyone?
  • The Fisherman's Information Bureau. "It was this big! Really!"
  • Someone at the government was having fun when they came up with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (a continuation of health care benefits after you lose your job). That, or it's proof of government infestation by terrorists with hoods and metal masks...
  • The name of the party supply company brand Elope stands for "Everybody's Laughing On Planet Earth."
  • In 2000, when the Reform Party of Canada merged with a faction of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, the new party (the Canadian Alliance) came very close to calling itself the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance. However, the media added Party, causing the arrangement of the words to change.
  • In the Netherlands, schools and universities are sometimes associated with religious organisations. Universities also tend to turn their names into acronyms (like U.v.A.: Universiteit van Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam). Cue hilarity when the Catholic University in Tilburg (Katholieke Universiteit Tilburg) rapidly changed its name to Catholic University of Brabant. Take a guess what the less-than-flattering name for female genitalia is in Dutch?
    • Likewise, Belgium has the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which gets shortened to KULeuven, and not KUL. Because kul is Dutch for nonsense.
  • The unsucessful landing craft from the European Space Agency's Mars Explorer was called Beagle, and one of the Beagle's tools was the Payload Adjustable Workbench.
  • Britain has the National Union of Teachers.
  • The Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or as it's better known to people who know about it, Mother of All Bombs, was the largest conventional bomb when it was created in 2003. In case the above examples haven't made it sufficiently clear, the U.S. government as we know it today thrives off this trope. Afterwards, the Russians decided to one-up this with the even bigger "father of all bombs."
  • That Bring A Real Friend poster on Totally Radical? That's a real-life version of both that trope and this one.
  • In military aviation, there is HERO—this stands for Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance. (A strong enough radio signal can cause detonators to spontaneously fire. HERO restricts the use of radio devices.
  • The US military tried the damnedest to subvert this trope with the DUKW, an amphibious truck of outstanding quality produced in WWII. D for designed in 1942 [of course!], U for utility, K for all-wheel drive and W for dual-axle. Everyone ignored the inconvenient W and called them "ducks".
  • This works out awesomely for the Cleveland Institute of Art, or CIA.
    • This also works for the Culinary Institute of America.
    • At the University of California, Berkeley, there is a student organization that used to be called the California Investment Association. In 2009, they changed their name to Berkeley Investment Group.
  • The Defense Research and Engineering Network. (Hint: Read it backwards.)
  • 7s name.
  • While not technically an acronym, the Canadian postal codenote  for Santa Claus is indeed H0H 0H0note .
  • The Food Stamp Program, a federal aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (as well as the largest nutrition assistance program), changed its name to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or in abbreviated terms, SNAP!
  • The Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines probably elicits a few snickers among foreign policy wonks who have seen American Pie...
  • At Purdue University back in the 1970's, about the time "TGIF" was becoming commonplace, a group of students formed the So Happy It's Thursday club.
  • The USA Department of Justice gets on with acronym fun with their policing committees, Community Oriented Policing Services, and Police Executive Research Forum
  • This trope is actually Older Than Feudalism: Early Christians chose the "fish" symbol based on the initials of Jesus Christ's title (in Greek, the lingua franca of the day): Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (letters weren't one-to-one with Roman script). The saying "money is the root of all evil" came from the same source (as "greed") as a thinly veiled Take That against the Roman empire, in Latin: Radix Omnium Malorum Avaritia.
  • SAFE Archery, a company that specializes in archery with foam tipped arrows, for special events and the like. They were used by Disney for Brave themed archery activities, for example. The name stands for Students And Famlies Experiencing Archery.
  • The sadly now defunct Federation of Australian Race Tuners.
  • The full title of London Zoo's biodiversity exhibit, Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival, home to most of the zoo's invertebrates.
  • In 1938 when government programs with unwieldy acronyms were all the rage, O. C. Cash parodied those names by calling his newly formed barbershop quartet club the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). The Society bylaws always insisted that one should never try to pronounce the initials as a word, but everybody did — for decades it was informally called "Speb-squssa" by its members. Finally they decided that the ridiculously long name joke had gone on long enough, and formally changed the name to Barbershop Harmony Society.
  • The programming language LISP officially stands for "LISt Processing", but due to the fact that Lisp programs tend to involve absolutely massive amounts of parentheses due to the way the language's syntax works, an old programming joke is that it actually stands for "Lisp Is Stupid Parentheses".